Sabato, 22 Settembre 2018

Food waste has colossal economic, environmental costs - FAO


Rome, September 11 - The squandering of around a
third of all the food the world produces each year has colossal
economic and environmental costs, the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Wednesday.
The Rome-based UN agency said that the waste of around 1.3
billion tonnes of food per year has a direct cost to producers
of $750 billion annually, even without counting the fish and
seafood sectors.
But the economic cost is only part of the impact of chronic
food losses.
The FAO said food that is produced but not eaten consumes a
volume of water equivalent to the annual flow of Russia's Volga
River and is responsible for adding 3.3 billion tonnes of
greenhouse gases to the planet's atmosphere.
The waste is shocking in a world in which 870 million
people do not have enough to eat, according to FAO estimates.
The report said 54% of global food wastage occurs during
production, post-harvest handling and storage, according to
FAO's study.
The rest happens at the processing, distribution and
consumption stages.
The later a food product is lost along the chain, the
greater the environmental consequences, since the environmental
costs incurred during processing, transport, storage and cooking
must be added to the initial production costs.
So the most costly form of waste is when consumers throw
away cooked food.
"We simply cannot allow one-third of all the food we
produce to go to waste or be lost because of inappropriate
practices, when 870 million people go hungry every day," said
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva at the presentation
of the report entitled Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on
Natural Resources.
"All of us - farmers and fishers; food processors and
supermarkets; local and national governments; individual
consumers - must make changes at every link of the human food
chain to prevent food wastage from happening in the first place,
and re-use or recycle it when we can't".
The FAO's drive to combat losses has been supported by Pope
Francis, who earlier this year compared wasting food to stealing
from the poor.
The agency said the highest levels of food waste were in
affluent societies.
In part this is due to consumers failing to plan their
shopping, overpurchasing, or over-reacting to best-before-dates.
Another factor is that quality and aesthetic standards lead
retailers to reject large amounts of perfectly edible food, the
FAO said.
In developing countries, post-harvest losses early in the
supply chain are a key problem due to financial and structural
limitations in harvesting techniques and storage and transport
infrastructure and climatic conditions favorable to food
The FAO said measures to combat waste included better
balancing of food production with demand.
It said efforts should be made to find secondary markets
for surplus food and, in some cases, to donate it to vulnerable
members of society.
Where re-use is not possible, recycling and recovery should
be pursued to stop uneaten food rotting in landfills and
producing methane, a particularly harmful greenhouse gas.

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